He was first elected to the legislature in the election of 1990, defeating New Democrat Dale Hamilton by about 1,300 votes. He was re-elected with a much greater majority in the 1995 election, in which the Progressive Conservatives formed a majority government.
During the 1995 campaign, Arnott was the only Progressive Conservative candidate who refused to sign an election pledge not to increase taxes without a provincial referendum. Not surprisingly, he was not appointed to Mike Harris's cabinet after the election.
He was again re-elected with a large majority in the election of 1999. Again, he was not appointed to cabinet in the governments of Harris and Ernie Eves.
Arnott describes himself as a "moderate conservative", and endorsed John Tory's bid for the party leadership in 2004.
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